Initial Response to Libraries Review Staff Consultation

UNISON Response to Accommodation Office Options Review (FBC)

 

Initial Response to Libraries Review Staff Consultation

28th July 2016

Introduction

This is Barnet UNISON’s first response to the Council’s current Consultation with staff regarding the proposed restructure of the Library Service.  The Council has yet to provide UNISON or Library workers with accurate costings for the proposed posts. The Job Descriptions for the proposed posts in the new structure were also delayed in being supplied to UNISON. Additional responses focusing on these issues and the job selection process will follow at a later date as we consult further with our members.

UNISON remains fundamentally opposed to the Library Restructure which is driven by an ideological push to privatise regardless of the financial cost, or the price that library workers will pay in lost jobs or the lowering of the quality, accessibility and safety of the Service. » Read more

UNISON members – Register to vote in the Labour leadership Election

UNISON Response to Accommodation Office Options Review (FBC)

The Labour Party is holding an election for the leadership of the party.

To register to vote, Barnet UNISON members must:
  • Be a member of the union before 12 January 2016
  • Be a member of the affiliated political fund. This is an opt-in when you join where you agree part of your subscriptions can go into the fund.
  • Register with the Labour party as an affiliated union member

UNISON has produced a quick tool to allow members to check whether they are eligible to vote and to register as an affiliated supporter if they are eligible.

Click on this link:

UNISON Labour Affiliated Supporter Registration Tool

PLEASE!!!

Remember Jeremy has supported us & been to our picket lines

Corbyn Barnet Picket web readyimgID41067066

UNISON response to Caretaking Service Review

 

UNISON Response to Accommodation Office Options Review (FBC)

UNISON response to

Caretaking Service Review

23rd of July 2016


 

Purpose of Review

  • To make an annual saving £151,166.
  • This sum chiefly to be realised by withdrawing current Service Tenancies [£145,000] and Council tax payment [£25,320] from staff employed as Resident Caretakers.
  • To provide a more responsive Caretaking Service to Barnet Homes customers.

 

 

Background

To achieve the above aims Barnet Groups stated preference is to:

  • Create a new Senior Estate Services Manager Post
  • Down grade current Estate Services Managers post and replace with new ESM role with different duties
  • Delete Senior Caretaker post
  • Create a new ‘Driver Grade’ caretaking post
  • Delete Resident Caretaker post and replace with a mobile Caretaker post.

 

Proposals by the Barnet Group

 

Estate Service Managers

To be ring-fenced to apply for new Senior ESM role – Choice of Redundancy or Assimilation into new ESM role – Pay protection would apply.

 

Senior Caretakers

To be ring-fenced to apply for any vacant new ESM role – Choice of Redundancy or assimilation into new mobile Caretaker/Driver role – Pay protection would apply.

Removal of service tenancy if applicable.

 

Resident Caretakers

Assimilation into new Caretaker/Driver role. Removal of service tenancy.

 

 

Removal of Service Tenancies – Barnet Group position

 

  1. Discretion at the initial Housing needs assessment.
  2. Discretion at the time of the first tenancy review (in 5 or 6 years’ time) provided you are still in the employment of Barnet Homes [as a caretaker]. Up to 11 years in current home with discretion.
  3. Senior Resident Caretakers will also benefit from the same discretion on the initial housing needs assessment even if they choose to take voluntary redundancy. But, the second round of discretion (i.e. in 5 or 6 years’ time) will not apply as they will not be employees of Barnet Homes.
  4. Lump sum compensation as an alternative to subsidised rent and council tax for two years (equivalent to one year’s rent and council tax). Average compensation payment per caretaker is estimated to be £7,290.

 

  1. There are no conditions (i.e. Continuation of service with the Barnet Group) to the award of the lump sum compensation. The amount offered equates to 1 years rent and we are not in a position to offer more. The tax free element of the payment depends on affordability.

 

  1. This Lump sum payment will not apply to Senior Caretakers who take Redundancy

 

 

Removal of Service Tenancies – UNISON Response

 

  1. UNISON members request that if discretion can be applied to the housing allocations policy that a secure, full life time Tenancy for staff effected should be considered as way to reach a mutually agreed position.

 

  1. It is welcomed that discretion has been extended to the date of the first tenancy review, however the qualification element of continuing to work as a Caretaker for Barnet Homes would limit opportunity of staff to progress their career with their current employer.

 

  1. It is welcomed that Senior Resident Caretakers will benefit from the same discretion if they choose to take redundancy – but this should also be applied to the first tenancy renewal [after the first 5/6 year period] whether or not there is a continuation of service with the Barnet Group.

 

  1. The lump sum option is welcomed, but the stated amount is not of enough value to compensate for the loss of staff’s service tenancy.

 

  1. It is welcomed that the lump sum is not reliant on staff continued service with the Barnet Group. However the offer will not reflect the outlay of effected staff over a year for rent and council tax if the payment is not the net figure.

 

  1. Senior Caretakers who take redundancy should be entitled to receive the lump sum compensation in lieu of a year’s rent as the lump sum is not reliant on continued service with the Barnet Group.

 

Other Factors

 

  1. Health & Safety Compliance – UNISON has asked for details of provision for staff under the H&S Workplace [Health and Safety and Welfare] Regulations 1992 for the new service – this has not been provided or costed.

 

  1. Removal of Contractual Overtime – Barnet Homes state – If salary protection applies then the contractual overtime will be protected. Salary protection will only apply if the employee’s current salary is higher than the new salary – It has not been communicated to staff whether or not salary protection will apply in their individual circumstance or what the cost will be to Barnet Homes.

 

  1. Barnet Group intention to create a new ‘Caretaker Driver Grade’ [SCP 20 – 23] with no supervisory responsibility.

 

Currently the Senior Caretaker Grade [SCP 22 – 25] encompasses some day to day supervision of caretakers, dealing with stores, Health and Safety checks on equipment, occasionally deputising for ESM’s and undertaking estate inspections. The Senior Caretaker position gives caretaking staff the opportunity for career progression. The new ‘Driver Grade’ does not have the same level of responsibility or offer caretakers the opportunity to progress their career.

 

  1. Staff and Customer Workshop Feedback indicates that while there is always room for improvement, there is a general feeling that the Service performs well and that a Local caretaker service, local knowledge and presence is important to Barnet Homes customers.

 

  1. Average age and length of service of staff group effected. The majority of staff who are Resident Caretakers will reach retirement age in the medium to short term.

 

Risks

  • A broken job structure which does not give adequate opportunity for career progression and which could have an adverse impact on staff retention.
  • Loss of loyal, committed and dedicated staff, who have good local knowledge and presence and rapport with Barnet Homes customers.
  • Spiralling cost of Service review in relation to redundancies, payments, pay protection, Health & Safety statutory requirements.
  • Failure to agree a negotiated way forward with staff, with the potential to cause a breakdown in industrial relations.

 

         UNISON Recommendations

 

  • That the Service Review should not incorporate removal of Service Tenancies from staff currently effected.

 

  • That the Senior Caretaker post is retained as part of the new structure.

 

  • That the Barnet Homes Board postpones making a decision until a fully negotiated agreement is reached with staff.

UNISON Response to Accommodation Office Options Review (FBC)

 

UNISON response to
Accommodation Options Review (AOR) and to Locality Strategy Options (LSO)
11th July 2016

Barnet UNISON
UNISON Office,
Barnet House
Telephone: 020 8359 2088.
Fax: 020 8368 5985.
Email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk
www.barnetunison.me.uk
2016

UNISON Response

 

Summary

1) The cost to Barnet Council of £50million on this project without having fully secured or identified the associated resources needed elsewhere in the Borough to make it workable presents as foolhardy as the decision to sell off Mill Hill depot without having secured an alternative.
2) High numbers of colleagues working at the NLBP and Barnet House sites use their cars both for getting to work (78% according to our survey) and for carrying out their work duties (64%).
3) There are critical risks to the Council with respect to being able to continue operating effectively and safely if a wholesale move to Colindale goes ahead.
4) It is not clear how the assessment of business delivery has arrived at the conclusion it has for the Locality Strategy Options (LSO).
5) The Accommodation Options Review report (AOR) is missing critical information which Councillors need to make a sensible decision about whether or not to proceed to approve the construction of the Colindale site.

Background

Barnet is an outer London Borough with good public transport links going from north to south but with extremely poor east to west transport links. A typical journey across the borough by bus takes one hour. The proposals before this committee are to build council office space in Colindale which:
 has poor access routes across the Borough;
 is known to be able to house less than half the number of staff we have in Barnet House and NLBP both in the Council and in partner organisations;
 commit to “smarter working” without fully understanding how this is functioning now and without the infrastructure in place to support this;
 commit to Council staff using alternative space in a variety of venues without any understanding as how practical or feasible this is, including no synchronisation of the plans for libraries with the plans outlined here;
 commit the Council to spending £50million without realising any savings for 50 years (even if it works).
London Borough of Barnet (LBB) has seen many changes over a very short period of time. This has included significant reductions in staff numbers and over 20 TUPE transfers (excluding TUPE transfers of staff from schools to Academies). There have been reports to the various Council Committees which have received approval for developing plans for the further outsourcing of all remaining staff except for those in the Commissioning teams.
This is very unsettling for staff still employed by LBB and there are now serious recruitment and retention problems not only across the whole Council, but also for our “partner” organisations such as Barnet Group, CSG and RE. This is being felt most acutely in staff areas where clients are at extreme risk. Agency staff now make up some 40% of social workers in Family services and over 20% of social workers in Adults services. Recruitment campaign after recruitment campaign is not yielding positive responses by attracting new colleagues. The risks to maintaining safe working are already high in these services both in terms of the current workforce and for service users. Therefore any additional loss of experienced staff to these services could be catastrophic. Most of these colleagues work from the North London Business Park or Barnet House. This knowledge deficit is true of staff groups working for the other partners.
Barnet UNISON conducted a survey over just 7.5 working days on members in both of these settings. We were responding to anecdotal evidence that colleagues are anxious about any prospective move to Colindale. In this very short time we received 219 responses which is unusually high and confirms that this issue is, indeed, worrying a large number of colleagues.
This survey showed that 28.5% of current colleagues would have to stop working for Barnet if their workplace became Colindale. 35% of colleagues are actively looking for new jobs now.
An overwhelming majority of colleagues (78%) use their car to get to work and 64% use their car in carrying out their work duties. After the proposed move to Colindale 76% will need to use their car to get to work and 61% will still need to use their car to carry out their duties. 71% responded that the move to Colindale will lengthen their journey to work (this last response includes those using public transport and those using their cars to get to work).
This indicates that the move to Colindale will be hugely disruptive for colleagues in terms of their attendance at work and has serious operational implications in terms of carrying out business on behalf of the employer if there are not adequate parking arrangements at the Colindale site.
It should be noted this survey focussed questions on those using public transport to get to work and those using cars. We acknowledge that there are colleagues who use their bicycles and motorcycles to get to work and so additional surveys would need to be carried out to capture their anxieties with respect to the move to Colindale. There is too much missing information in the report for Councillors to approve the construction of the offices in Colindale:
 No detail with respect to the fit of numbers of staff and volume of public accessing the space against the size of the spaces themselves.
 No mention of disability access to the site in Colindale either for workers or for residents needing to visit the local offices.
 No completed study on office utilisation.
 No completed study on the current way in which “smarter working” has been taken up (pros and cons), nor a study as to how this is likely to be achieved in the future.
Committing the Council to this decision with such poor information risks repeating a similarly disastrous situation we have with the relocation of operations from Mill Hill depot. In this case it would mean a loss of experienced staff and the inability of services to perform effectively due to lack of access to any, or only poor, office space as well as poor access to some of the communities we serve.
We note that in the LSO report there is much mention of the use of libraries to accommodate the displaced staff. In particular North Finchley, Chipping Barnet, Burnt Oak and Golders Green are very much the preferred venues and yet these libraries will themselves lose respectively 67%, 13%, 51% and 58% of space available to them as part of the plan for libraries agreed by the CELS committee earlier this year. There is absolutely no clear plan for how the space vacated by the library will be used although some of it is to be used commercially.
In addition the reduction in staffed hours of the libraries mean they will not be available to be used safely by other council staff members.

Risks

1) The Council commits itself to a costly albatross when the chance to secure more sustainable and cheaper options may present themselves.
2) There is a high risk that experienced colleagues will leave Barnet in the next 2 years as a direct consequence of confirmation that their workplace is moving from NLBP and Barnet House to Colindale.
3) As a result of large numbers of experienced staff leaving their jobs, the Council will be exposed to serious further risks in terms of managing critical services to the public.
4) Without sufficient provision of parking spaces services to the public are at risk of being undermined by moving large numbers of work colleagues to Colindale as over half of these colleagues use their car to carry out their work duties.
5) High risk of a repeat of the Mill Hill depot scenario where, in the realisation the Council has critical services to provide but has not planned to accommodate the operations around this, it is forced to enter into costly and inefficient solutions.
6) There is a risk the Council will no longer meet its obligations under the Equality Act if it is unable to provide adequate access to disabled workers and residents to its buildings.

Recommendation

1) This committee postpones making a decision until full information has been provided with respect to the answers to questions raised here around disability access; current office utilisation; a study on “smarter working” to date; the genuine feasibility of the usage of the alternative sites identified for the purposes stated.
2) The lease for Barnet House continues until 2032. This gives this committee the chance to take stock of its situation with respect to the Colindale site and to see how the vote to leave the EU will affect the local economy and house prices more generally. This is not the time to make such a costly decision which we can all too easily predict we will regret.

 

 

Barnet UNISON Unified Pay Update 1: 5 July 2016.

Unison strike NLBP 02 web ready

By now all of our members should have received a letter from HR about their individual circumstances.

If you have not received your letter please alert your line manager and contact:

Unified Reward helpline on 0330 606 4444 (option 1) or email barnethrpayroll@capita-services.co.uk or Unified.reward@barnet.gov.uk

We have already started to receive contact from some of our members about the content of the letters.

Our office is collating the names and details and requesting that members provide copies of all communication they have had so far and any documents that they send.

Myths

We have heard some disturbing reports that staff with concerns are being told that if UNISON cannot attend a meeting in relation to their concerns they should still attend that meeting. Firstly we do not recognise this advice as HR is fully supportive of UNISON being part of the process and that includes the most important part: looking after your interests. If you are given a date, you simply need to contact the branch and we will liaise with HR to agree a new date.

Deadlines for Appeals

We understand that members are concerned about meeting deadlines. We have spoken to HR and these deadlines are going to have to be extended as we need to ensure there is adequate time to process everyone’s request.

What are some of the issues being raised?

It is really important we quickly establish what the issues are for you:

  • Grading dispute.

This where a member or a number of members believe the new grade does not reflect the work they do. In this case it is important that you register your right of Appeal and contact the UNISON office.

  • Other Payments

There are reports coming in where members are reporting that they are losing money because of changes to their other payments (not basic pay). This is not part of an appeal process but does need to be addressed as part of Unified pay. We have already alerted HR about these emerging issues. Therefore we need members to follow the same process and contact the branch with all the relevant details.

How will it all start?

As part of the process agreed with HR, there is an informal process which is in place to see if there is a way to resolve the issues without going through a formal appeal hearing. This means that the first meeting will be with you, your UNISON rep, your line manager and HR. For this meeting everyone will need to have all the relevant information in advance of the meeting. Therefore before this meeting takes place you need to meet with your UNISON rep to go through your case and be ready for the informal meeting.

3 things you need to do

  1. Ring the UNISON office on 0208359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk
  2. Provide a copy of your letter with a brief explanation of your concerns together with a copy of your completed appeal form.
  3. Provide a recent copy of your payslip.

 

No To Austerity – No to Racism – Saturday the 16th of July

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After the referendum unite to demand…
No More Austerity – No To Racism – Tories Must Go

 

Barnet Meet Up : Saturday the 16th of July

11.30am Argyll Street

[Beside Oxford Circus Tube]

& look out for Our Banner.

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The Tories have been plunged into crisis by the result of the EU referendum. David Cameron will soon be gone. The Tories will use Brexit to whip up anti-immigrant racism and accelerate their austerity policies and attacks on living standards. George Osborne has already threatened an emergency budget which will hit ordinary people hard.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Tories are weaker and more divided than they have ever been. It looks likely that an early General Election will have to be called when Cameron steps down. However people voted in the referendum, we now need to unite and take to the streets to demand an end to austerity policies, to stand up to anti-immigrant racism and show our solidarity with refugees and migrants.

This demonstration, called by the People’s Assembly and Stand Up to Racism, is the positive and united response to the political earthquake on 23 June.

We are not spectators while the Tories fall out. We must make ourselves participants in shaping the future.

We will not let racism grow; we demand an end to austerity.

Support Jeremy Corbyn

“An injury to one is an injury to us all, standing shoulder to shoulder,” all nice words, but Jeremy is being attacked and he now needs our help.

As trade unions we know when someone is a target we stand right behind him publicly, we don’t hide or wait for others. No more rhetoric please get out there and show support for Jeremy.

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Support Jeremy Corbyn

“An injury to one is an injury to us all, standing shoulder to shoulder,” all nice words, but Jeremy is being attacked and he now needs our help.

As trade unions we know when someone is a target we stand right behind him publicly, we don’t hide or wait for others. No more rhetoric please get out there and show support for Jeremy.

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